I’ve been thinking about my wish for things to be easier. This specifically relates to summer camp this week, of course. I thought Tuesday would be easier, but no, Annie decided she didn’t want to go to camp as soon as I pulled the car up to the parking lot. Nothing I said seemed to convince her otherwise. Not the fact that she had fun the day before, or the notion that I was going to work. I promised her an ice cream cone before I walked away. KK was with her, stepping way too naturally into my role: “Mom, just go, she’ll be fine!”
But I knew she wasn’t. And I was mad. I met a good friend for coffee and I held my phone close to me, waiting for a call. I told my friend, “ I just want things to be easier! I was waiting for summer thinking it all would be easier. And in many ways it is. But in some ways, it is so not. She is still Annie.”
Lately, being Annie means crying every time Mom leaves the house, bargaining hard for exactly what she wants, and getting very upset when she doesn’t get her way. The other side of Annie is delicious, but that isn’t what I want to change.
So, yes, the call came. Luckily, it was a parent from St. John telling me about the snot running down my child’s face and her refusal to join in. This woman gallantly came to my rescue, agreeing with me that coming to get her wasn’t in anyone’s best interest. This other parent helped Annie calm done and got her to join in. She talked to the first-time counselors about how to engage my child, and one assistant counselor spent the day with her. Point is, she was having fun and fine by the time I picked her up.
Still. And yet. I spent the day upset. When I left for yoga last night, Annie was in meltdown mode again. There was no putting Annie up on the shelf while I moved through my yoga poses. Putting a person or event or life’s craziness up on the shelf during practice means you are letting it go while you are on the mat, instead focusing on your breath, the movements, the here and now.
I wanted to run home and see if Annie was OK. I wanted things to be easier. I wanted Annie to be easier. I wanted to change her into a happier, more content version of herself.
No such luck. These difficulties are hers. She gets to figure out how to stay at camp and participate when she would rather be at home with me. She gets to figure out that I always come back, that I am not going to Africa and never coming back. She gets to realize that KK picked the movie for family movie night and she doesn’t get to go off by herself and watch “The Fox and the Hound 2” for the third time.
And I get to decide that suffering is optional. Or that’s what the memoir I am reading said last night. This uneasy time is here, in front of me. I get to decide how to react. Yes, I walked away from my crying child several times yesterday and left her in capable hands. Then I chose to feel miserable. For all the non-attachment I have practiced over the last year or so, it is difficult to detach from Ms. Annie. (She knows this, my smart cookie of a girl.)I did an OK job of lessening my suffering yesterday, but it never completely disappeared.
After awaking from a solid sleep last night, I know I’ll do better choosing happiness today. I wasn’t suffering when I joked with KK and Annie this morning. While waking them up, I said, “What if I had 56 kids to take care of, and 48 of them were babies?”
They laughed. We discussed how I could take care of them.
“I couldn’t nurse all of them. KK, you would have to feed them with bottles. Can you imagine fixing 48 bottles? You could not go to camp!”
We all laugh.
“I know! We could sell them. Forty-eight babies for sale!”
Then Annie decides she is a baby and I am keeping her. When she comes downstairs 10 minutes later, she brings the sheet with her.
“I am in my baby blanket! Here’s your baby!”
As she eats her cereal, she tells me we have a new secret name. She isn’t my baby bird anymore; she’s just my baby. I already knew that, and I tell her our secret is safe with me.